Argus editor – aka PubSpy – shown the door

Posted On 11 Mar 2019 at 1:02 pm

Andy Parkes

The editor of The Argus has been put on gardening leave after learning his job was set to go under the Sussex paper’s latest restructure.

Andy Parkes, who also wrote the scurrilous PubSpy column which reviewed Brighton and Hove pubs, was editor-in-chief of both The Argus and Newquest’s South London papers.

This follows the sudden departure of the region’s managing director Tony Portelli at Christmas.

One anonymous Argus staffer said: “People in editorial aren’t really surprised. After Tony left at Christmas, Andy’s role was bound to be put under review.

“He was a jovial figure in the office and obviously Arron [Hendy, head of content] is devastated. He relied on Andy as his mentor. Andy was always the one to make tough decisions and announce bad news.

“Clearly Brighton and Hove’s publicans aren’t going to miss Andy’s pub spy reviews but it was always something he was proud about, especially getting stick from the pubs when he wrote a bad review.

“There has been so much change over the last three years, we just move on and hope it’s not our job on the line next.”

Mr Portelli was replaced by Mike Harper, formerly managing director of Essex and North London who now oversees both areas, known as Newsquest South East.

At the time of publication, Mr Parkes’s most recent tweet was congratulations to the Argus team for having the second-smallest drop in circulation of UK regional papers in the latest ABC figures.

These showed the paper sold 10,003 newsprint copies a day in the six months up to December 2018, an annual drop of 6%.

Industry website Hold The Front Page also published an “alternative ABCs” which deducted free and bulk copies sold by each newspaper – for example, those given away at railway stations.

In this table, the Argus circulation was 8671, an 8.68% drop from the year before. Meanwhile, its website attracted 56,256 daily browsers in December, 2% down on 2017.

The anonymous staffer said the paper’s circulation has now dropped to 8,549 a day.

Mr Parkes became editor-in-chief of the Sussex paper in December 2016, following the departure of popular editor Mike Gilson after just two years.

His first head of content was Lucy Pearce, who quit after just two months to take up another role. She was replaced by current head of content Arron Hendy.

Staff say they have not been told who – if anyone – will be replacing Mr Parkes.

  1. ChrisC Reply

    Perhaps the Argus would be a success if they actually reported news that people wanted to read rather than just post cut and paste from press releases (spelling mistakes and all).

  2. Michael pert Reply

    The agus comes out in the mornings so it’s yesterday’s news not paying for old news

  3. sd Reply

    I stopped reading The Argus years ago – I’m grateful for this site instead. The Argus comments section is a cesspit, and that is what put me off the entire publication.

    • Christopher Hawtree Reply

      I no longer write letters to the Argus or speak with its reporters. The readers’ comments are squalid, they have taken it down to base, into a mire from which I doubt it will rise. The spirit of overs is now its domain.

      • Nigel Furness Reply

        How right you are, Christopher. These squalid readers’ comments have sunk to a level only marginally above the banal drivel and FAKE NEWS which spews like verbal diorrhea from the incessant tweets of more than one embittered former Local councillor. Welcome, to the 21st Century.
        Prospective UKIP parliamentary canidate for Brighton Pavilion

  4. Valerie Reply

    Residents need to be proactive in taking news items to journalists to get information circulated. Treat the papers as intermediaries now- because they ain’t got the funding to go searching for content. Fact. And it is in our own inteeedts to do it.

  5. Gilbert Bligh Reply

    Interesting that people criticize the argus comments section when the very same people pollute the comments section here with their own naive and one-sided views. They are mostly trolls commenting in the Argus – they’ve totally lost impact and you have to be an idiot to even bother reading them.

    • Burble Reply

      The comments on this website tend to be relevant to the story and rarely include personal abuse or irrelevant tirades. Not sure whether that’s more to do with the readership or if they’re better moderated but the difference is notable.

  6. Occasional agus reader Reply

    I had no idea the pub spy writer was someone so senior. Thought it was a rather metropolitan 20something down from London but trying to make his mark and get a job on a paper like the Star.

  7. Roy G Reply

    Andy Parkes achieved a great deal at The Argus and in his career with Newsquest.

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